Washington D.C. – On January 13th, 2023, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a streamlined deferred action process that will protect immigrant workers involved in labor organizing and other labor disputes from threats of immigration-related retaliation by employers. In response to this policy announcement, UFW and UFW Foundation released the following statement.
“The UFW welcomes DHS’ guidance addressing protections for immigrant workers who speak up about the violation of their labor rights from retaliatory deportations,” said UFW President Teresa Romero. “For too long, agricultural employers have weaponized the threat of deportation to keep wages low, to suppress labor organizing, and to keep farm workers living in fear – which is just how agricultural employers like it. DHS’ newly issued guidance is an important step towards ensuring that all workers in the United States, regardless of immigration status, can enforce their rights to engage in labor actions without fear of deportation.”
“The Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to protect undocumented workers from deportation are all the more important given the fact that Senate Republican leadership and the American Farm Bureau have blocked bipartisan legislation that would have given farm workers a path to legal status. While we continue to hope that Congress will do the right thing for these essential workers, farm workers need the ability to assert their workplace rights free from threats of deportation now. We will work to educate farm workers across the nation about the protections they now have under DHS’ new policy.”
“The new guidance by the Biden-Harris Administration will ensure that farm workers, regardless of their immigration status, will be empowered to enforce their labor rights and confront the often horrendous abuse and exploitation too many farmworkers face,” said Diana Tellefson Torres, Chief Executive Officer of the UFW Foundation, “Ultimately, our movement cannot improve working conditions for farm workers in the United States without ensuring that immigrant workers – who form such a large and essential portion of our nation’s agricultural workforce – are able to enforce their rights and seek workplace improvement without the threat of immigration enforcement.”